Bi Football Player Conner Mertens Hopes it Won’t Be an Issue

He talks about bullying and ignorance, but also related a tender story about his old school friends.

Conner Mertens, second from left, was joined by coaches and teammates at Willamette University when he announced he was bisexual in January 2014.

Conner Mertens, second from left, was joined by coaches and teammates at Willamette University when he announced he was bisexual in January 2014.
AP/Statesman Journal, Danielle Peterson

Martens said:

One story I love telling is about a friend back home who was a stereotypical ”redneck.” We’ve been best friends since eighth grade. There were many weekends back home where he’d say things about killing all the gays or burning them alive – very morbid and terrible things. When I was going to tell him, I knew exactly how he’d react. I called him and we hung out and played video games. I was like, “Hey, man, I’ve got to tell you something.” I just told him: “I like guys. I don’t know how you feel about that. Sorry, I can’t change it but it is who I am.” He immediately broke down and started crying. He hugged me and said, “If anyone treats you a fraction of how bad I treated you, you tell me and I will kill them.” It was such a powerful moment to see this rough and tough redneck who had condemned homosexuality and was so violently homophobic to completely change his views in 30 seconds. That image will stick with me my entire life. That was a big turning moment for me.

Mike Szymanski
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Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.” Write him at [email protected]